Do I Need Permits to Build a Deck in New Jersey?

Decks are the perfect place to gather with family and friends on a summer day. In fact, that’s one of the reasons that so many New Jersey homeowners choose to add a deck to their homes during the winter or spring. 

It might seem like a simple enough project that you can DIY, but there are actually a lot of things you must consider before you even begin. First and foremost, you must ask, “Does a deck require a building permit in New Jersey?”

It’s a question that we get a lot at Tandem Contractors, and the simple answer is yes. However, as with most construction projects and permitting processes, there’s more to it than that. The answer largely depends on whether it is new construction, repairs, or modifications. 

We understand that all of the jargon surrounding building permits and codes can be confusing for homeowners, so we’ve broken it all down for you. Keep reading to learn more about:

  • The Uniform Construction Code
  • Exemptions for Building Permits
  • Obtaining Permits for Your Project
  • Working with Deck Contractors

The Uniform Construction Code 

According to the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code, ordinary maintenance and minor work require less oversight. Therefore, you can complete them without a full permit and inspection. In order to determine whether your deck project requires a permit, you’ll need to understand how it is classified. Is it minor work? Or does it fall under the construction or total replacement category?

What is Ordinary Maintenance/Minor Work?

Minor work is work done to existing structures. They are small projects that don’t alter the structural components of a building. Ordinary maintenance is the upkeep that is done to a building, and it doesn’t require a permit either. The NJ Uniform Construction Code classifies the following construction projects under ordinary maintenance or minor work:

  • Painting & Wall Papering
  • Window & Door Replacements that Don’t Alter Original Opening
  • Cabinets
  • Railing
  • Flooring
  • Exterior Gutters and Leaders
  • PART of a Deck, Porch, or Stoop Repair or Replacement

You can also find a complete list of electrical, fire protection, HVAC, and plumbing work that falls under the ordinary maintenance or minor work list.

Determining Whether Your Deck Project Requires a Permit

Going back to the original question, “does a deck require a building permit in New Jersey?” We now know that the answer is yes for new builds. Since the code only considers partial repairs or replacements as minor work, any new deck construction must have a permit and inspection. Total replacements also require a permit.  

If you are working on part of a deck, you may still be required to obtain a construction permit. Any repairs or replacements done to a part of the deck that provides structural support needs a permit and inspection. If you are simply repairing or replacing a part that has nothing to do with the structural integrity, it is ordinary maintenance. Therefore, you can carry on without a permit. 

Note: You must also ensure that the project doesn’t involve electrical and plumbing work that could require different permits.

Exemptions for Building Permits

Some states offer exemptions for deck-building permits. They often base the exceptions on the size of the deck, its height, and its connection to the home. In these states, homeowners can easily DIY a deck build or replacement without a permit or inspection. 

In New Jersey, however, all new deck builds, regardless of size or height, must have a permit. The only exemptions apply to repairs or replacements when they are done to a part of the deck with no structural significance. 

Obtaining a Construction Permit in NJ

After you ask, “Does a deck require a building permit in New Jersey?” you must then figure out how to obtain the permit. The process can be overwhelming for homeowners trying to DIY the project. However, you tackle it by breaking down each step:

  1. Request a Permit Application for Construction
  2. Fill Out the Required Forms and Submit Supplementary Documents
  3. Fill Out Any Subcode Forms and Certificate of Occupancy Forms
  4. Provide General Contractor Information (If Applicable)
  5. Submit All Paper Work to Construction Department

Once you submit your application, the department will review it. If there are no issues, you will receive your permit. That’s not the end, however. You will also have to follow up with inspections before your project can be considered complete. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the above process can vary from city to city. Some residential codes can dictate everything from the stair location and height to the type of wood you use. While we can provide information about the general steps, you should contact your local building department for more specific information. 

Hire a Deck Contractor to Help with Permits

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the permitting process? If so, you don’t have to deal with it on your own. Since permits are typically requested by the person doing the work, you can save yourself a lot of time and headaches by hiring a professional contractor to build your new deck.

Fortunately, residents of New Jersey don’t have to look far to find a team of skilled and knowledgeable contractors. At Tandem Contractors, we have had the opportunity to help countless homeowners build their dream deck. Therefore, you can be sure that we know all about navigating the permit process.  

That’s not all!

Our experts can guide you through your deck design and answer any questions you might have along the way. We can even help you choose the right materials to provide you with a beautiful, long-lasting deck that meets all of your city’s requirements.

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